A Family Day Out In Ueno Park
Perhaps best known for it’s stunning cherry blossom trees in the Spring during the Hanami Festival, Ueno Park is also home to the greatest concentration of museums, and also an area of Tokyo that is full of cultural history.
A Day in Tokyo's Cultural Heart with Your Baby
What You Should Know Before Taking This Tour
Wheelchair and stroller accessible, no special gear required.
For stroller recommendations, check out our article about best strollers for air travel.
Layers, depending on season. Plan to be walking so good shoes. Also remember to bring washcloths to dry your hands and tissues for the restrooms. Japanese bathrooms don’t usually provide these things because everyone brings their own. If you are visiting and need these supplies any grocery store, drugstore or Daiso or Seria chain (dollar store) has them. I would also bring a bottle of water and snacks, it is a lot of walking.
Definitely need cash in yen. Yen has many denominations in large coins so a large coin purse is easiest and what most locals use instead of a western-style wallet. No one really uses credit cards in Japan except large department stores and some grocery stores but usually, there are massive exchange fees for western banks. Some card companies will waive all fees, like Amex. But generally, most vendors do not take cards.
Most attractions are 200-800 yen so I would bring about 3000 per person, or about $25 USD.
This trail is baby and toddler-friendly!
Ueno Park is a big park and a full-day activity, but you can easily adjust this trail depending on how long you chose to spend at either stop.
Avoid taking this trail on Monday and Tuesday, as the National Museum of Nature & Science is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays if Monday was a national holiday.
The swan boat ride is only 30 minutes. For more information on the swan boats see below:
Swan boats are closed on Wednesdays in Winter.
Swan boat hours are 10AM -6:30PM in Summer, 10AM-6PM in September, 9:30AM-5:30PM in October, February and March, 9AM – 5PM in November, 9AM-4:30PM in December, 9-5AM in January.
No need to reserve anything ahead. The museums are very visitor-friendly and inexpensive.
At the National Museum of Nature & Science, make sure to sign up for your soft play time slot when you arrive.
This is a year round all-season trail. You will need a dry morning since all the activities are outdoors, but the afternoon is mainly indoors.
If you’re in Tokyo in Spring, you’re in luck. The Hanami, “the cherry blossom festival” a long-standing Japanese tradition of welcoming spring. This is a particularly lovely season to visit Ueno Park with many locals coming here to enjoy picnics under the cherry blossoms and many street food vendors, another fun alternative to lunch.
About a Family Day Out in Ueno Park
Let’s follow Victoria, from Tea For Dinosaurs, who used to live in Tokyo with her baby boy, on a lovely day out in Ueno Park. After an early start at the playground in Ueno Park, we head to the zoo, which is one of the biggest attractions of the area. This zoo is small, but lovely and the entrance fee is cheap. Some argue Japanese zoos are awful. This zoo is fairly updated with pretty surroundings and there are pandas.
Then wander around this park where there tend to be so many random events going on at all times. It will give you a nice slice of life into a day in the life of a local in Tokyo.
Ueno Park was also the site of some hideous battles during Japan’s brief civil war, when troops loyal to the shogun resisted the takeover of power by the Emperor. It was originally a temple, founded by Ieyasu Tokugawa as part of the power circle intended to protect Edo Castle from malicious influences. On the grounds of the temple were more than 800 cherry trees, their blossoms making Ueno famous today.
The park was donated by the Imperial household to Tokyo City for use as a public park to commemorate the wedding of Hirohito (later to be Showa emperor) in 1923. It was intended not just to serve as a recreational venue, but also a place for education of the population. Today, it is one of the most popular parks in Tokyo, home to the Ueno Zoo and several museums – some of which are very child-friendly.
If the weather is cooperating, head over to the Boat dock offering covered swan paddle boats or row boats. Boat rides are half an hour long and offer adorable photo opps, and you and your kids will have fun paddling around the pond.
For lunch, Victoria strongly urges checking out her friend who runs the Tokyo Chapter’s recommendations. For some Japanese food to eat with your kids, head over to Motomaru for Kyushuu Ramen and gyoza. They have an English menu out the front of the store and the staff are so so friendly too. There is table and counter seating to choose from.
Keep in mind that Ueno Park is rich with history, as you wander around.
In the temple grounds there was a giant Buddha bronze statue, which was destroyed during the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. The face remains and is on display in the park. Other remains from the original usage is the Tokugawa mausoleum, where the first shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa is enshrined (his burial site is in Nikko, a nice day trip from Tokyo).